BETHESDA, Maryland, October 4, 2014 — Diana* is a survivor of domestic violence who lives, works and raises her young son in the United Kingdom.
Before the relationship, I was a single mom, starting out in a new career and doing very well. I was one of the top ten personal trainers in the UK out of 1,500, but I was still very insecure with little self-worth.
Whilst in the relationship, my insecurities grew more, and I found myself losing myself. I felt needy. I was more self-critical. I started getting involved in drugs and alcohol. Although he was an addict, he would criticize me for it.
After the relationship, I felt more powerful and in control. I found my self-worth. I am still confused but learning more every day and finally getting my “Diana” boots back on. I feel like I just missed a very bad plane crash and am grateful to be free.
I have a son from a previous relationship. My ex bought my son many presents early on. He called me every hour pretty much from day one. He then became paranoid that I was abandoning him and cheating on him. He threw me across the pavement about six months into the relationship. I went to the police. However, he charmed me back so much with loving words and copious amount of gifts. I believed him and went back.
He soon took me to Monaco to meet his family and where he was quite famous (had his own TV show for about four years). He drove me around in fancy cars and made me feel like I was this amazing princess. I felt out of place. It was almost too much, and I never meditated as much as I did that weekend. It was memorable, however, just another scheme and cover up of his true self.
One day he would be loving, the next day screaming at me and telling me how selfish I was. He was a drug addict. Yet, he would tell me I had problems with drink, which I didn’t. I just can not tolerate a lot of alcohol. He would get mad that I couldn’t keep up with his party scene.
At nine months, I caught him in bed with another girl. I broke up with him again, and for six weeks he tried winning me back with lots of love letters, dozens of phone calls a day, getting his friends to back him up, etc.
We would have a couple of months of normality. Then the big bang. He went into depression. He came to my flat one evening after I had been to see friends and was sure I was cheating, which I never did. He chased me around the flat, calling me a whore and throwing me around. He tried to have sex with me. I screamed. The police were called, and I charged him with 12 counts of assault.
Seven weeks later, he pleaded guilty and did community service then pleaded to me that he would change and that he was bipolar and was getting treatment. He showed up with an expensive Tiffany diamond ring; he wrote poetry; he pleaded; he cried; he even told me he had a brain tumour, which I found out was a lie. Then he whisked me off to Paris, spending about £6,000 in a matter of a week.
To my demise, he was back cheating and abusing me more three months later. I broke it off again. We had a nine-month break this time. I stupidly went back again for six months; I just could not get my head around what was happening and was waiting for him to be nice again. But it was more a abuse, more confusion, more gifts and more promises, until finally, I had enough .
He told me he thought I cheated on him all the time and that guys viewed me as a whore. He said I was an alcoholic, because I am intolerant to drink. He said nobody loved me like him and that I was lucky to have someone like him. He said nobody would treat me like he did, because I am too crazy. He would take money regularly from me and make me feel guilty if I didn’t help him.
Once, I went on holiday with a girlfriend and left him behind. He was so mad and called me by the hour whilst I was away. My girlfriend and I put a plan together to keep me away from him. When I got back, it semi-worked. Then he went travelling for three months on his father’s bank account. He met a girl that has money and works as a stewardess. She can get him free flights anywhere, so he has now preoccupied himself with her.
He has showed up at my flat a few times since. However, he knows I have nothing to offer him. I won’t give him money, sex, food, etc.
It has taken me a while to get my self-worth back and to not believe what he says. Recently, I cut my hair, and he sent an email saying how dreadful I look and that I am clearly a mess without him. I am trying not to listen to him, but it is very hard.
To escape and distract myself, I sometimes party with girlfriends. I also joined dating sites just to get a bit of attention from other guys and to realise that I am a desirable girl again.
My biggest challenge in the aftermath has been in understanding why he was like this and accepting that he never loved me. He was extremely mean. He lives in my area. He drinks at my local bar. Avoiding him is hard. He goes out looking for me and will show up places on purpose to upset me still.
To help myself heal, I read other people’s stories. I hired a life coach who listens to me and helps get my “Diana” boots back on. I lean on my friends, whom I really started to appreciate more. I also focus on my beautiful 8-year-old son, who was never abused by my ex.
My advice to someone who is struggling with leaving their abusive relationship is to get some support and avoid all contact. There is nothing you can say or do to change the abuser; this is the way they are.
It is extremely hard watching my ex play his next victim. I have contemplated emailing her. However, I know my ex will manipulate my warning. So it is best to look after number one…me and my son who needs me more.
Each day during the month of October, column author Paula Carrasquillo will feature a story written by a survivor of domestic violence. At the end of October, a compilation of all stories will be available for free as an e-book.
*All names have been changed to protect the survivor and the survivor’s family and friends.